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Darwin, a Baby and So Many Questions

Why Building Your Board Discussions Around The Right Questions Can Be A Game Changer For Your Company


I didn’t know that when my next door neighbor had a baby that I was actually supposed to deliver their baby present in person instead of shipping it to ‘em.  That I was supposed to see the new kid and say hi to it and all that.  Who could possibly know the etiquette?

I also didn’t know that Charles Darwin refused to eat any food that begins with the letter H.  Or that everyone named Molly is a lefty.  Or, that everyone in first class on the plane is sort of tall.  How would I possibly know these awesome facts?

I suppose my point is that everyone needs a little help. 

The way you interact with your board is no different.  Not only are you allowed to ask your board members for help, you’re encouraged to do so.  Ultimately the most efficient way to make it happen is to develop a system.

Unfortunately, at our first company, Moosejaw, it took us a really long time to ask anyone for help with anything.  Our mindset was basically…we have no clue what we're doing so it’s likely that no one else does either.  So, we just figured everything out as we went.  There’s clearly a lot of value to that approach.  Our staff was really resourceful…everyone sort of had to be in order to manage through all the chaos.  I’m guessing there are lots of human people out there who can relate.

It wasn’t until we started working with an advisor that we realized experience matters.  Let’s call our advisor Don.  Mostly because that’s his name.  Don taught us everything…opportunity cost, math, Texas A&M football, etc.  And, to say that we drilled him with questions every week, or every day, is an understatement. 

Working with Don was really great for us but we clearly had no system.  Looking back, it only worked because Don was such a bad ass.  To note, according to a made up study by a made up organization called the Global Advisor Group, better known as GAG, less than 1% of companies are lucky enough to get a Don.

At our second company, CrowdRise, we developed a better system for connecting with our board members and we built a better template for them to engage with during our board meetings.

  1. I talked with one of our board members every two weeks.  A scheduled call.  There was just one agenda item - What’s Keeping Me Up at Night?

The call was awesome. 

  1. I had to prepare something meaningful for the call which was a real catalyst to us running our company more efficiently. Basically, putting real thought into what was actually Keeping Me Up at a Night and having to deliver that narrative every two weeks was a great system for attacking our company goals.
  1. Our board member was always helpful and thought-provoking on those bi-weekly calls without being remotely heavy handed.

  2. There was no B on purpose.

Side note…is it true that bi-weekly can be twice a week or every other week?  If so, who do we talk with about fixing that?

  1. We added specific content to our board decks to encourage engagement.  

We’ve taken the best of that CrowdRise concept  plus we’ve embraced feedback from about seven thousand operators and board members to build a process into Zeck that prompts you to ask questions of your board and gets your board to engage with your narrative and data more easily.  That was a really long sentence. 

Some quick examples:

  • Your Deep Dives begin with a section called Questions for Discussion. Simple but might be genius.  

  • A Commenting Feature that:  

  1. Encourages your board to add their own feedback during their pre-read (we make it way easier for board members to actually consume your content ahead of the meeting)  as well as during your live meeting.

  2. Another side note…I won’t get into it here but the Commenting system in Zeck is superior to anything else out there and designed specifically for board engagement. 
  • Quick Insta-like reactions so that your board members can add everything from a ‘Let’s Discuss’ to a ‘Nice Work’ to your content. 

  • A drop-down that allows you to add a questions block so you can start the list of questions you actually want to solve in the live meeting. 

Okay.  Guessing that’s enough examples.

Two more notes just to sum this up…

  1. If you think you’re going to just start asking your board meaningful questions you’re probably kidding yourself and it won’t work. You gotta have a system for it.

  2. If you have any questions about any of this, definitely don’t email us about it.  Asking people for help can only reflect poorly on you.

Decent Humans of Zeck

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